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Nurse Bullying in the Workplace

Bullying in the Nursing Workplace

You’ll be surprised to know that nurse bullying in the workplace is something that

actually happens in some institutions. Nurse bullying is an extensive

problem that begins way before nursing schools and continues throughout a

nurse’s career. A good percentage of nurses quit their first job due to the

negative behaviours of their co-workers and bullying starts to develop.


Effects of Nurse Bullying in the Workplace

A bullying culture contributes to a poor nurse work environment, increased risk to lose patients and lowers Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

Incivility is a term used to describe rude, disruptive,

intimidating and undesirable behaviours that are shown towards another person.

Incivility is any kind of action that is offensive, intimidating or hostile and

interferes with the learning or practice environment. Incivility, bullying and

violence in the workplace are serious problems in nursing. It is rude, discourteous

and disrespectful. It’s quite unfortunate that workplace incivility negatively

affects employees’ mental health and emotional well-being and may cause

anxiety, depression, fatigue and somatic symptoms among the nurses. These

negative emotions and physical consequences can ruin a nurses’ development of

their work abilities.

 How to Avoid Nurse Bullying in Health Institutions

Employees are encouraged to be proactive in avoiding workplace

violence by volunteering to participate on workplace violence prevention

committees, attending prevention trainings offered by the employer, being

familiar with the workplace violence prevention programs and policies and

reporting all incidents. Uncivil behaviour may be in the form of insulting

comments, spreading false rumours, dirty looks, social isolation and being disruptive.

There is also the existence of mean nurses. Mean nurses have an exaggerated

sense of self and want to be in control of all aspects of the work environment.

They want to control how others take care of patients in hospitals and to

control happiness at work.

 Which are the Common Forms of Nurse Bullying?

Bullying can range from incivility and exclusion to physical

violence and death threats. Since there are several acts of bullying, they are

divided into covert and overt behaviours.  Overt bullying is easier to

identify as it includes techniques such as extreme micromanagement, verbal

criticism, name-calling, insults and direct threats. On the other hand, Covert

bullying is indirect and passive. It includes rumours and gossip, withholding

information, unfair assignments, low grades or undesirable tasks like

punishment and sabotage. Currently, social media, text messaging, online

platforms and even video games have expanded the act of bullying. This involves

direct harassment as well as indirect hate. Even if a person does not intend

the comment to be seen or deletes it moments later, cannot stop others from

taking screenshots and sending them to the target. Because of this, it is known

that social media promotes bullying towards individuals and groups. 

According to The National Institute of Occupational Safety and

Health (NIOSH), there are four types of violence that nurses might face in

their work environment. These are:

  1.   Criminal Intent- The bully has no relationship with the victim and

the violence is carried out in conjunction with a crime.

  1.   Customer/client- This is the most common healthcare assault as the

bully is a member of the public with whom the nurse interacts with in the

course of their regular duties.

  1.   Worker-on-worker- In this case the bully and the victim work


  1.   Personal relationship- In these incidents, the victim is being

targeted as a result of an existing exterior relationship with the bully, with

the violence taking place in the workplace.

Some of the ways to deal with rude co-workers are: having a strong

mindset, not taking it personally and

staying focused among others.

Nurse bullying not only affects the productivity of individuals but can also lead to adverse effects such as depression. In order to learn more about this vice, log onto where a team of professional nursing writers have expounded more on this. 


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